Spotlight on Biology
The study of biology encompasses any manifestation of life, from the DNA molecule to the interactions of organisms within the various ecosystems of the earth. This broad discipline includes the subject areas of botany, zoology, microbiology, ecology, genetics, and molecular biology. Studies lead to a Bachelor of Science (3-Year, 4-Year, or Honours) with a major in biology; as well as a Master of Science in bioscience, technology, and public policy. The University of Winnipeg’s biology department also offers joint degree programs with Red River College.
A BSc in biology can lead to careers in conservation, government, and education; as well as technologist positions in research or industrial laboratories. The degree also provides the preparation necessary for those entering several professional programs — including dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, and optometry.
Professor: Dr. Anuraag Shrivastav
IMPROVING CANCER DIAGNOSIS
Anuraag Shrivastav is a chemist turned cell and cancer biologist.
His research program focuses on cell signaling pathways and the variations in signals that lead to the growth of cancer cells. Shrivastav and his team are currently developing tests that will aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast and colorectal cancers — the latter being a simple blood test that is less invasive, and more sensitive than current diagnostic tools.
“Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable, yet least prevented forms of cancer — because by the time it’s diagnosed, it’s already too late,” Shrivastav said. “This screening test is going to be very helpful.”
Growing up in India, Shrivastav knew he wanted to be a scientist, and by the time he was in high school had decided to study cancer. After obtaining his PhD, he moved to Canada to complete a postdoctoral fellowship and has been a faculty member in UWinnipeg’s biology department since 2011.
Student: Dean Reddick
A BROADER UNDERSTANDING
After spending close to a decade working as a welder, Dean Reddick decided to follow his heart and go back to school.
“I always wanted to get into the field of science,” said Reddick, who, four years later, is wrapping up a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and preparing to dive into his master’s at UWinnipeg this fall.
His upcoming graduate research will take place in Dr. Shrivastav’s lab and will focus on a specific protein within cells and its involvement in breast cancer. Reddick says that if they can learn more about the protein, there could be an opportunity to develop new treatment options for breast cancer patients.
“It’s really exciting material. The stuff we’re doing in the lab is cutting edge, it seems like it could make a huge difference if we can channel it the way we want,” he said.
Reddick is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s.
Alumna: Danira Jaksic
ENSURING QUALITY PRODUCTS
A conversation with a fellow UWinnipeg grad helped Danira Jaksic decide to leave her job as a lab technician with the City of Winnipeg and get into the field of quality assurance at a local pharmaceutical company.
“It’s one of the jobs where I’ve applied my degrees the most,” said Jaksic, who has a BSc in biology and biochemistry, and a MSc in bioscience, technology, and public policy.
While she learned the basics of bioscience during her undergrad, her graduate studies taught her the business side of managing a lab — such as how to order products, stick to a budget, and make connections with sales representatives.
In her day-to-day work, Jaksic is responsible for ensuring everything her company produces meets the regulations set out by Health Canada.
“I want to make sure that the product is safe for Canadians, and I want to prevent us from ever encountering a recall,” she said.
* * * * *
See more Spotlight features here.